Larry Trask, who made a prior Languagehat appearance in this entry, has a useful Basque page, prefaced with the following pointed caveat:

But please note: I do not want to hear about the following:
Your latest proof that Basque is related to Iberian / Etruscan / Pictish / Sumerian / Minoan / Tibetan / Isthmus Zapotec / Martian
Your discovery that Basque is the secret key to understanding the Ogam inscriptions / the Phaistos disc / the Easter Island carvings / the Egyptian Book of the Dead / the Qabbala / the prophecies of Nostradamus / your PC manual / the movements of the New York Stock Exchange
Your belief that Basque is the ancestral language of all humankind / a remnant of the speech of lost Atlantis / the language of the vanished civilization of Antarctica / evidence of visitors from Proxima Centauri

(Thanks to Vidiot for the link.)
Addendum. Thanks to Pat of for this excellent interview with Trask; I was sad to read at the end: “Illness has robbed him of his voice, so that this interview had to be conducted entirely by email.”


  1. After looking at Trask I just googled around on “bizarre”, which a Spanish dictionary told me long ago was a Basque word originally. And found your site.
    It’s still very interesting that bizarro in Spanish or Portuguese means “brave, noble, elegant” etc., very far from the English meaning. The Spanish Armada must be at fault.

  2. Trask is one of my favorite authors, as far as linguistics goes. I never hesitate to recommend A Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in Linguistics, which is full of even-handed discussions of more linguistic terms than Panini could peruse.
    His A Dictionary of Phonetics and Phonology is equally useful, if a bit more erudite. But then, isn’t everybody interested in knowing what diplophonia, anthropophonics, and pneumotachographs are?

  3. Well, I certainly am! Thanks for the recommendations.

  4. Trask’s exasperated posts against pseudo-linguistic numbskullery on the sadly defunct Indo-European list are missed. Oh, well.

  5. Oh, and I just ran across this nice interview with Trask in the Guardian. It turns out that he himself is an interesting character: he was born in Appalachia, but has lived in England since the seventies. And it’s *really* fun to hear him tear into Chomsky.
    But then, doesn’t everybody want to tear into Chomsky?

  6. He left out the Voynich ms.

  7. Hmmph, I sent you this link–pointing out that very quote–some months ago. *sulks*

  8. Damn — sorry, Karl! I must have been in a fugue state. See, that’s why I needed a vacation.

  9. Chomsky! Mmmmmm-mmmm. Nothing like a nice piece of Chomsky between two slices of rye.
    I don’t know what “pneumotachographs” is, but it’s immediately become one of my favorite-sounding words.
    Oh, and Hi Pat!

  10. Moira!
    What’s up you!
    Mr Hat, you may be interested to know that I have known Moira since blogging was but wee.
    Sorry for playing tag in your comments. 8^)

  11. No, no, I think of my comments as a cafe where people can chat about whatever they like, and I’m delighted to discover that two of my favorite bloggers are old acquaintances!

  12. I’m sad to report that Professor Trask died on Saturday, after a long illness. A real tragedy. Certainly he was one of my own favourite linguists, although I admit I’ve yet to read any of his more substantial works.

  13. Damn. I’m very sorry to hear that; he was one of mine as well.

  14. Trask made a career on the premise that the origins of the basques and their language can Never be known. Not to mention his assertion that the basque language is so unique that it has nothing in common with other lanugages.He even claims in his FAQ that nobody knows where the basques came from; turns out that paleoanthropologists have traced the basques to the middle east.The closest to the basques[both linguistically AND genetically] are the Hunza of Pakistan.I also wonder what the likelyhood that the basque word for water : Ur is a loneword from sumerian.

  15. Luis Martins says:

    Rest in Peace.

  16. The possibility of Larry Trask hearing about that Basque is related to such as Pictish no longer exists now, and thank God.

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